School field trips were put on pause over the last year, but the Wildling Museum in Solvang teamed up with Solvang School to bring art and nature to the virtual classroom.
The partnership culminated in a new online student exhibition, “Solvang School: Bird Studies,” on view online through Sept. 12.
The artists include Julia Aparicio, Alleiyah Berry, Haidy Campos, Quincy Godfrey, Ella Gotschall, Max Johnson, Clea Malkmus, Jaide Malkmus, Campbell McClurg, Sophie Miller, Alexis Mobbs, Audrey Morgan, Kaitlyn Petersen, Presley Pinoli, Cypress Raymond, Hannah Ricci and Beau Woodall.
Stacey Otte-Demangate, Wildling Museum executive director, worked with educator Erin Dunkle and middle school students enrolled in Solvang School’s Art and Science elective class to explore birding and the art of John James Audubon.
After beginning the school year with a focus on nature journaling, the students turned their attention to birds with guest lectures offered by the Wildling Museum via Zoom to provide background information about bird watching and John James Audubon in addition to guided drawing lessons.
The students learned about bird anatomy, practiced identifying birds based on their size, shape and color patterns, drew living birds using live bird cams from the Cornell Lab of Ornithology and analyzed Audubon’s work from his book, “Birds of America.”
After selecting a bird species to focus on, students used a technique inspired by Audubon’s process of pinning collected (hunted) bird specimens onto gridded boards, allowing them to achieve accurate proportions when drawing birds on gridded paper.
Students selected a digital reference image of their chosen bird species, then placed a digital grid over that image before translating their compositions to watercolor paper where they were then able to accurately map out bird proportions. Based on their research, students then added midground and background details to their paintings that reflect the natural habitat of their bird species.
“I’m so grateful for our collaboration with the Wildling Museum so far this year and look forward to additional ways we can partner in the future. We are very lucky to have this amazing educational resource in our community,” said Ms. Dunkle, the students’ instructor.
“Our students have such a passion for art and getting into Mrs. Espejo’s art classes at the middle school can be competitive. I’m a big art appreciator so I created this class. The response was very positive the first time we offered it, so I’m teaching it again.”
Solvang School’s Art and Science elective class explores the skills that artists and scientists share: observation, curiosity and creativity. Over the course of the year, students investigate how art can promote scientific discovery and understanding and how science and technology have influenced art.
“Solvang School: Bird Studies” can be viewed online through Sept. 12 at www.wildlingmuseum.org/news/2021-solvang-school-bird-studies.